The NFL’s free agency news and rumors mill never stops, especially with the legal tampering period set to open on Monday. The New York Jets are expected to be active in free agency and are in need of help in the secondary. Will they target New England Patriots free agent cornerback J.C. Jackson? Here’s the latest from Pro Football Network Insider Tony Pauline.
Will the Jets go after J.C. Jackson in free agency?
Given that the Patriots declined to use the franchise tag on Jackson, he’ll hit the open market next week. He’s expected to be in high demand, and he ranks fourth on PFN’s 2022 free agent list. The Jets, meanwhile, are projected to have nearly $50 million in available cap space, second-most in the league.
Still, don’t expect New York to make a serious run at Jackson when free agency opens. Pauline has been told that such a pursuit is “unlikely” to occur. The Jets don’t feel Jackson is a great fit for their defensive system, and they’re more likely to use their resources on offensive and defensive lineman, per Pauline.
Jets have a need at cornerback
While Jackson may not be a priority for the Jets, there’s little question they do need reinforcements at cornerback. Bryce Hall played more than 1,100 snaps and proved he could be a serviceable starter, but New York needs more depth. Brandin Echols, Michael Carter, and Javelin Guidry all struggled while playing at least 400 snaps each.
If the Jets do want to address their defensive backfield, there are other options available in free agency. Carlton Davis will be just as expensive as Jackson, but mid-tier CBs such as Steven Nelson, Casey Hayward Jr., or Darious Williams could be more affordable.
Jets likely to target free agent OL and DL
Instead of using their salary cap space on cornerbacks, the Jets are instead expected to explore free agent offensive and defensive linemen, according to Pauline. Gang Green should have a bevy of available players to choose from in free agency.
The Jets are nominally set at offensive tackle with George Fant and Mekhi Becton, but that could change if New York moves on from Becton, as Pauline previously reported is a possibility. If that happens, the Jets could look at free agent offensive tackles like Terron Armstead or Trent Brown.
The more likely course of action, however, involves New York signing a new right guard to play on the interior alongside center Connor McGovern and left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. This year’s guard market is one of the deepest positional classes in free agency. Players such as Brandon Scherff, Laken Tomlinson, James Daniels, Connor Williams, and Austin Corbett could hold appeal.
On defense, the Jets could lose run-stuffing tackle Folorunso Fatukasi in free agency. If he departs, New York may survey an interior D-line market that includes Akiem Hicks, B.J. Hill, and D.J. Jones. The Jets also have a pressing need at edge rusher, even though 2021 free agent addition Carl Lawson should return from injury next season. Von Miller, Chandler Jones, Randy Gregory, Jadeveon Clowney, and Haason Reddick are among the available pass-rushing options.